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Virtual visitors

BenStevens27 June 2012

The subtitle of Dr Melissa Terras’ Lunch Hour Lecture at the British Museum on 14 June asked an intriguing question: why would anyone want to visit the virtual British Museum (BM) collections online? After all, surely the allure of the Museum is seeing the Rosetta Stone, the Elgin Marbles or the spectacular Great Court in person?

The answer, as Dr Terras pointed out, largely depends on who you’re asking. The average tourist would undoubtedly say that they’d prefer to visit in person – hence why the BM received 5.8 million visitors in 2011.

However, when you look at traffic to its website in the same period, it received 10.5 million visits and 60 million page views. So, why the discrepancy?

As Deputy Director of UCL’s Centre for Digital Humanities (UCLDH), Dr Terras is well versed in analysing this sort of online user data.

For this absorbing talk, she drew extensively on some analysis undertaken by two of her PhD students Claire Ross and Vera Motyckova, alongside colleagues at the Museum itself. They focused their study on the BM’s online collection database during the period 18 June 2009–17 June 2010.

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Grant Museum wins Museums and Heritage Award for Excellence

newseditor17 May 2012

Last night a contingent from UCL including colleagues from Museums and Public Engagement, UCL Centre for Digital Humanities and Heritage Without Borders headed down to the illustrious premises of 8 Northumberland for the 10th Anniversary Museums and Heritage Awards.

In total three UCL projects had been shortlisted; the move of the Grant Museum for Project on A Limited Budget, the Grant Museum’s QRator project for Innovations and Heritage Without Borders for The International Award. Did we bring home the silver (glass)? Well from the title of this post you can gather we did but you’ll have to hit the jump to find out more..

We won the Innovations award for QRator: Visitor Participation Through Social Interpretation. Here’s what the award looks like, complete with our grubby finger prints from last night. Some of them may even be comedienne and broadcaster Sue Perkins’ who presented the award.

There’s a whole raft of people who need thanking and who were instrumental in the QRator project. In no order they are: Andrew Hudson-Smith and the original team behind Tales of Things from UCL Centre for Advance Spatial Analysis, Steven Gray from CASA who developed the QRator app and has been our 24/7 helpdesk ever since, Claire Ross from UCL Digital Humanities who worked with me originally in trialling QR codes in the Grant Museum and who has been instrumental in researching, supporting and spreading QRator, Melissa Terras and Claire Warwick also from Digital Humanities who have given continuous feedback on the project as well as share the burden of the numerous published papers on the project, Susannah Chan from UCL Museums and Public Engagement for inventing the mounts for the iPads, Grant Museum Manager Jack Ashby who writes the content and designs the displays for QRator, Grant Museum colleagues Emma-Louise Nicholls and Simon Jackson who moderate the content day in and day out, UCL Public Engagement Unit for their funding and support of the project, Sally MacDonald Director of UCL Museums and Public Engagement who has been a huge driving force behind the project and key to realising it and of course the visitors of the Grant Museum who interact with QRator and interpret the Grant collections. Without them this project would literally be nothing.

Read more of Mark Carnall’s entry on the UCL Museums & Collections Blog

Going digital: alumni professional networking event

newseditor29 March 2012

Ian Bartlett, Head of UCL Publications & Marketing Services, reports on the recent alumni professional networking event.

What is the secret for a successful career in the world of digital media? What degree should you take? How do you stay on top in this fast-moving environment?

These questions and many more were addressed by the discussion panel of UCL alumni as they spoke and during the following Q & A sessions, the event being chaired by Professor Claire Warwick (@clhw1) from the UCL Centre for Digital Humanities.

From a personal angle, I wanted to learn more about the paths taken by panel members to reach the positions that they now hold.

From the perspective of my role as UCL’s Head of Publications and Marketing Services (PAMS), I wanted to know:
1) Were the UCL degrees taken by each of the panel members integral to their success?
2) Where did panel members see digital media heading next?
3) How does an organisation cope with the fast-changing developments in digital marketing?

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Have digital resources rendered the inaugural lecture obsolete?

newseditor1 February 2012

Professor Claire Warwick held the packed audience of the Gustave Tuck Lecture Theatre, as well as the online live streaming audience, captive with her unusual approach to the inaugural lecture by asking: The monologue in a crowdsourced world: have digital resources rendered the inaugural lecture obsolete?

Instead of discussing the highlights of her research into users of digital resources in the humanities, Claire took techniques that are used in user studies and applied them to the phenomenon of the Inaugural lecture as a case study.

Claire slowly deconstructed the assumptions behind the inaugural lecture by using the affordance strength model and its use in context to assess whether the inaugural lecture is fit for purpose, and then compared that to the digital alternative.

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